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How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Paperback – January 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156512975X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129757
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fifteen tales vividly chronicle a Dominican family's exile in the Bronx, focusing on the four Garcia daughters' rebellion against their immigrant elders.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- This sensitive story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic is told through a series of episodes beginning in adulthood, when their lives have been shaped by U. S. mores, and moving backwards to their wealthy childhood on the island. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as they are bullied and called "spics," and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic. These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes. This unique coming-of-age tale is a feast of stories that will enchant and captivate readers.
- Pam Spencer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Julia Alvarez has bridged the Americas many times. Born in New York and raised in the Dominican Republic, she is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist, author of world-renowned books in each of the genres, including How the García Girls Lost their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Something to Declare. She lives on a farmstead outside Middlebury, Vermont, with her husband Bill Eichner. Visit Julia's Web site here to find out more about her writing.

Julia and Bill own an organic coffee farm called Alta Gracia in her native country of the Dominican Republic. Their specialty coffee is grown high in the mountains on what was once depleted pastureland. Not only do they grow coffee at Alta Gracia, but they also work to bring social, environmental, spiritual, and political change for the families who work on their farm. They use the traditional methods of shad-grown coffee farming in order to protect the environment, they pay their farmers a fair and living wage, and they have a school on their farm where children and adults learn to read and write. For more information about Alta Gracia, visit their website.

Belkis Ramírez, who created the woodcuts for A Cafecito Story, is one of the most celebrated artists in the Dominican Republic.

Customer Reviews

I couldn't even finish the book because I was very confused.
Margarita Lozada
The story is one that you can relate to your family and find something from almost every character that relates to your life in some way.
Jacqueline
I read this book a few years ago in high school and it was assigned again in a college anthropology class.
J. Dougherty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Veronica Samanas on November 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Characteristic of the immigrant novel looking back upon one's beginnings, Julia Alvarez' novel begins in a reverse chronological order. The story introduces 39 year old Yolanda returning to her home in the Dominican Republic after an absence of five years. She is greeted by her extended family of aunts and cousins who still live a well to do lifestyle in a junta regime. It was the same Trujillo regime that caused Yolanda's parents and three sisters to flee their homeland in the early 1960's to the U.S. The story returns through a series of vignettes to the girls experiences and customs in a more genteel era. Where maids and chauffeurs were the order of the day, it lays the foundation for the sense of disillusionment and deprivation the girls feel in the United States where confrontations with schoolmates and unsavory exhibitionists only fuel their resilience. In addition to the normal difficulties associated with growing up, the girls contend with the confusion of having to forsake their native land with its Latin culture, tropical environment, extended family life, for a struggle with a strange language and even stranger culture. While in the Dominican Republic their mother, Laura, feeds the need in the "four girls" to seek their individuality by dressing them in identical outfits which differ only in color for each girl. The traditions and customs of the old both identify and isolate the girls in their new environment. The stories weave a tapestry of familial love, honor, confusion and tension. The girls are forever caught between who they were and where they came from, but never lose sight of who they have become. The author has presented a colorful tale in a semi-autobiographical work.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was first drawn to this book because the author is a female Latin-American writer. I have read some male authors (Marquez for one) and was completely swept away. But still I wished for a female perspective.
It would be unfair to compare "How the Garcia Girls.." with "A Thousand Years of Solitude" head to head because Ms. Alvarez is not attempting to write a saga or a great(long) novel here. Her stories are to be eaten like M&M's, singly or in a hnadful.
Ms. Alvarez's style is emminently readable. And the stories are quite engaging. I think it is a mistake to ask this to be a "novel" in the traditional sense. Many of the chapters first appeared as short stories and stand on their own. As a collection, they are like thumbing backwards through a photo album where we stop and relive/experience the story behind a moment.
If I have any criticism of this book is that I didn't feel I got to know each sister equally well, or rather, as well as I would have liked. But all in all I felt for the sisters, especially as they grew younger and relished the details of place and custom and family. It seems so personal I felt it must be somewhat autobiographical.
I recommend this highly.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
There is a point on the first chapter when Yolanda's husband ask her what language did she love in. This was the point I knew this book was going to be a very personal experience. Coming from a Hispanic country to worked in the United States, it never ocurred to me that to live and love was also going to be part of the experience. Reading this book was like talking to the friend that went on the same trip as you, only the week before.
Amazing how looking into somebody's soul can help you understand your own...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Pawl VINE VOICE on June 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first read one of the short stories in this book, "Daughter of Invention," in an anthology called GROWING UP LATINO. I found the short story so humorous, touching and sensitive I wanted to read the book that it originally came from.
What I admire about Julia Alvarez is her subtlety as a writer. I found myself chuckling to myself throughout the book, as well as learning more about her experience as a Dominicana told through the eyes of the four fictionalized daughters and the parents who raised them in a time of great political unrest. This was during the time of Trujillo, when their father got in trouble politically for attempting to overthrow his dictatorship. Hence, the reason for their exile to the Bronx, and the circular visits taken by the daughters returning from their schools in the U.S. back to the Dominican Republic.
What I admire about this story (or series of short stories) that discuss and illustrate the challenge of assimilation, racism and identity, is that Julia Alvarez's characters are identifiable with anyone who had has to immigrate and assimilate to a new set of social expectations and assume a bicultural/biracial identity. I think specifically of all the different Latinos from all corners who immigrated here, fleeing social and political unrest, and other groups of people of color who came to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
I am also a great fan of Sandra Cisneros, the lively and biting Chicana writer based in Texas. I have to say that to compare Alvarez's work to Cisneros is impossible because the styles are so different. But, in all honesty, I found Alvarez less hard-edged and more accessible. I highly reccomend this novel as an introduction to a wonderful, vibrant and insightful Latina writer. I want to thank Julia Alvarez for sharing the experience of assimilation and adversity with us, her humble readers.
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